No. 1 Rosé

If you’re looking for something to pair with you picnic food, rose is always a good option. It’s actually pretty versatile when it comes to food pairings: it’s usually great as an aperitif or with a whole range of foods. Unless you’re a top chef or like to go the extra mile, I can assume most picnics consist of the usual sarnies, salads, cheeses, charcuterie, sausage rolls and nibbles, all those great snack-y finger foods (well, mine do at least), non of which is usually overpowering or particularly heavy. Any bolder flavours are generally balanced out by the fresher elements. So, rosé is a great match. Dry, paler style of rosés can offer a delicate balance of fruit, florals/herbs and acidity, all of which is great with picnic foods. They’ll also stand up better to the sweeter bits of a picnic too.

Our favourite rosé and ideal picnic companion is the Gassac Rose. At £10.95 a bottle, it’s just fantastic. I could write A LOT about how much I love this wine but you just need to try to appreciate it. It’s from the Languedoc so has a touch (and I mean a touch) more fruit than it’s Provence counterparts. However, it’s by now means sweet. In fact, the slightly bolder fruit gives it a bit more oomph meaning it doesn’t shy away from food. It’s also available as a sparkling rosé which is equally delicious if you fancy something with a bit of fizz. 

A second favourite is the delightful Gris Blanc from Gerard Bertrand. Also from the Languedoc, but a paler, more Provence style of rosé that is never around for too long- you guys love it! Super pale in colour, aromatic and vibrant red fruits are met with a mineral finish and elegancy. Incredibly fresh and pure, it’ll go down a treat on a summers day with picnic nibbles. 

No. 2 English Wine:

As we’re in the middle of English Wine Week, I thought it necessary to include English wine, specifically English sparkling wine, on the list. Sparkling wine is great for outdoor occasions, so why not drink our own produce? English wines have really gone up in the wine industry’s opinion and we make some pretty serious stuff here on British soils. If you haven’t yet tried any then I recommend you do! 

English sparkling wines sit along side rosés when it comes to versatility. Usually dry in style, refreshing and crisp but with some added toastiness- they’re great for a whole range of picnic foods and nibbles. 

One of our favourites is the English Wine Project Renishaw Hall Sparkling. Made by Kieron, a well respected winemaker, with grapes grown a mere 20 minutes away from the shop at Renishaw Hall. The 2015 cuvee is a blend of of Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir which makes a wonderfully balanced fizz with notes of fresh apple, elderflower, custard cream and lemon. The tasting notes alone make me long for a lovely peaceful garden somewhere in the British countryside! Alas, my paved terrace/balcony (adorned with colourful planted pots) in Kelham island will just have to do (I’m joking, it’s a lovely space I’m very grateful for). But, in all seriousness, Kieron’s wines are fantastic and make for a great picnic paring. Kieron is now allowing visitors back to the vineyard in small groups- it’s large and allows for social distancing but is a breath of fresh air after lockdown. For more information, click here.

No. 3 Wine Cans

Yes, you read that correctly, wine cans are a thing and a bloody good idea if you ask me. Now, I know that there will be traditionalist out there gobsmacked by the idea but they’re actually an ideal way of consuming wine outdoors. Hear me out…

Wine in a can has become increasingly popular and for good reason. In terms of taking them out on a picnic, they’re easy to pack and keep cool, they’re less delicate, you don’t need a corkscrew and it allows you to have options. They’re usually fresher styles of wines, that pair perfectly with picnic food, and are aged in steel. Wine cans are also more environmentally friendly as they’re easy to import and easy to recycle, they’re usually a single serving or half a bottle in a can and can offer good value. Glass is often not permitted in public places yet cans are perfectly safe. Cans can also help protect the wine further as they’re completely sealed, airtight and light proof meaning they’re less likely to spoil. I like to think of wine cans as mini ageing tanks direct from the winery. I’ll admit, drinking wine straight from a can is a weird experience as we usually drink fizzy things from cans but take some plastic glasses with you and you’ll struggle to taste any real difference. Wine cans are not recommended for ageing- the idea is that they’re drunk young as aluminium can have a negative effect long term. But as mentioned before, the types of wines that are usually canned are generally young, fresher wines, designed to be drunk now.

So, as odd as they sound wine cans offer a great and sustainable option when it comes to outdoor drinking. Hopefully this might persuade you to try them. 

No. 4 Old Curiosity Gin

If there was ever a range of gins to be drunk outside, it’s these. Old Curiosity Gin was born out of a love of botany. Hamish is a wine merchant turned botanist who started Old Curiosity Gin back in 2017 after he established The Secret Herb Garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It’s home to over 600 plants and botanicals, many of which have been used in the production of natural products, like candles, as well as having been supplied to some of Edinburgh’s top restaurants. Hamish began experimenting with possible gin blends and started off with his Apothecary Rose gin, an ancient ingredient of many a medicines. All of the botanicals in Old Curiosity are organically grown and from their Secret Herb Garden. The only botanical that isn’t is the juniper but they source it organically and only do so because their own juniper trees are too young. They are completely natural too: no colourings, flavour compounds, chemicals or sugars are added.

Although they are all floral, their gins are surprisingly refreshing and not overpowering: there’s savoury and citrus elements that plays against the floral and herbal flavours. We first tried them last year and just imagined them to be perfect sat outdoors, surrounded by nature. They’ll be great for a picnic too, adding a refreshing lift to your nibbles.  

P.s. most change colour too! However, this isn’t some clever marketing trick, it’s simply due to the petals they use in production. Dried petals are macerated in the gin to give them natural colourings and flavour. Some of the compounds found in these petals react with acids and are released in to the gin. So when you add tonic, the colour magically changes yet it is a simple, natural chemical reaction. Delicious and pretty!

No. 5 Mackmyra Gront Te Swedish Single Malt

From our favourite Swedish producers comes the ideal Summer dram. The Gront Te is from their seasonal range and on the more experimental side- the seasonal range give Master Distiller Angela D’Orazio the room to make some more interesting offerings. It’s a collaboration between Mackmyra and Yuko Ono, a Japanese tea expert. The whisky spends time in the usual barrels used by Mackmyra, first fill bourbon, Swedish oak and ex-oloroso but it’s left in ex-oloroso barrels that have been filled with a liquid of four different types of matcha and sensha tea. The tea was macerated in the liquid and left to flavour the barrels, before being drained and filled with the whisky. The result is a truly unique whisky with a light, delicate profile. Think subtle notes of peach, white pepper, grass, citrus, forest fruit and a hint of creamy, vanilla custard. I’ll be honest, this isn’t necessarily one for classic whisky drinkers but it certainly is for those happy looking for something a little different and refreshing. I feel like I should be sat in a field of wild flowers or something along those lines when drinking it!

No. 6 Omnipollo Neophresco Passionfruit Pineapple Hard Seltzer

Hard what? What an earth is hard seltzer? It’s a form of alcoholic sparkling water, usually fruit flavoured, low in ABV and calories. It can be drunk straight from the can or over ice. There’s no spirit in them, they’re not like an alcopop like Smirnoff Ice, they’re made by fermenting either sugar cane, malt or fruits and generally infused with fruit flavours. It’s swept across the USA becoming incredibly popular and they’re due to land in the UK this summer. One thing that comes up with many of the bigger brands is that they taste pretty artificial and some are worried they’ll be likened to alcopops, perhaps appealing to a young, impressionable market. That being said, not all are like this. A good hard seltzer offers a refreshing, low alcohol beverage that isn’t overly sweet or heavy. Think of it being like a spritz, 

We currently have Omnipollo’s Hard Seltzer in store and I have to say that it’s unusual but rather delicious. Omnipollo are known for being excellent beer producers having worked closely with breweries all over the world. The Swedish company have just got their own brewery just outside of Stockholm and are known for their experimental approach to beer making. Their hard seltzer is the first of its kind from Omnipollo and it’s made with real passionfruit and pineapple, fermented with champagne yeast. The result is a taste sensation that’s a cross between a fruiter sparkling wine and a dry cider. It’s super easy to drink and dry but has a little toastiness from the champagne yeast. Omnipollo are showing how to properly do a hard seltzer without compromising on flavour. Definitely worth a go if you’d like to try something different! 

No. 7 Session IPAs

Session IPAs are, as the name suggests, sessional beers. Nowadays, we’re seeing IPAs come at whopping alcohol percentages (7%) meaning a couple of those and you’ll be well on your merry way. So how can you enjoy a refreshing beer without all the alcohol? Have a session IPA. Session IPAs are generally lower in alcohol, lighter and fresher yet still hoppy. They offer a great balance of flavour without the same heaviness of an IPA or compromising on taste. They make for a great picnic partner as session IPAs pair nicely with foods that have a tangy bite and little bit acidity as well as delicate spiced foods. 

As our beer range changes regularly, I’ve chosen a few session IPAs we have in currently. Some we generally always have in, others we swap and change to keep things fresh. If you’re after a specific beer, let us know and we can check if we have it in stock. 

No. 8 Non-Alcoholic Drinks

A few years ago, if you said you weren’t drinking, you’d be relegated to something overly sugary and fizzy. However, the past few years have seen some fabulous editions to the non-alcoholic market. Whether it’s low ABV beer or premium mixers there’s certainly a lot more choice for those designated drivers, pregnant or those who just simply don’t want the alcohol. Drinking in the sun with friends is great but we’re fans of responsible drinking and a non-alcoholic option is a great way to join in the fun without the hangover. 

Our non and low alcoholic beer range keeps growing. Like the rest of our beer range, we like to swap and change things to keep it fresh. However, there are a few favourite that you all love. Thornbridge have a couple of non/low ABV beers, the Big Easy at 0.5% and the Zero five. Other favourites are the Infinite Sessions (both their IPA and Pale Ale are always popular) and Big Drop who only make non and very low alcohol beers. These guys offer a while range of beers, from hoppy styles to sours, right through to stouts which is great for those who still want some choice in their non-alcoholic options. 

For those wanting non-alcoholic spirits, I would highly recommend Bax Botanics. Made in Yorkshire, they’re a great botanical infused alternative to gin or vodka. It’s made from pure, distilled water and organic botanicals, much like a gin. They aren’t technically gins as the don’t contain juniper or alcohol but are designed to be enjoyed with tonic and garnished as if it were a premium spirit. The also work well in virgin cocktails which you can find recipes for here. There’s two flavours, Sea Buckthorn which is earthy and spicy and Verbena which is light and citrusy. A warming flavour for the cold and refreshing flavour for the warm. There’s no added sugars or nasties making them very low in calories and a much healthy option too! 

Finally, we’re very much here for premium mixers and soft drinks. Not only do they enhance our alcoholic beverages, they are now excellent non-alcoholic options. There’s a lot more care that goes in to these brands than your average soft drink; many are sourcing sustainable, high quality ingredients and processing them naturally. The result is a refreshing soft drink made with natural ingredients that tastes like someone has sat down and considered what will be going in to the drink. Perhaps as I’ve got older, I’ve become more aware of the what I’m actually putting in to my body and it’s made me think twice before picking up a can of Coke (although a Diet Coke when battling a hangover can work wonders). Or maybe I’ve developed a more sophisticated palate but, either way, premium soft drinks are a considered, grown up way of not drinking alcohol. 

So, plenty of ideas for a boozy, but responsible picnic! Lets just hope the weather continues to behave itself and that I haven't jinxed it... fingers crossed!

Stay safe.

StarmoreBoss x

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